COLLINS ADVANCED SCIENCE: Biology. Marcus Barbor, Mike Boyle, Mike Cassidy and Kathryn Senior. Collins Pounds 24.99.
Collins Advanced Science aims to provide progression in ideas from the balanced science courses of key stage 4 and GCSE. So far, the biology and physics titles are available.
The text is easy to read and should prove accessible to the most reluctant readers. The authors have tried to overcome the problem of teaching students who are unfamiliar with the basic concepts underpinning the advanced syllabus. They do this by writing scene-setting chapters on the book's themes: the basic units of life, energetics, variety of living organisms, life processes, genetics and the environment.
There are a number of common design features: coloured boxes, summary points, cross-references, and self-test questions, with answers at the back.
Topics of special interest or extension include Nicotine, the Drug that Mimics Acetyl Choline, How Neurones Carry Information, Productivity of Ecosystems and the Fight against Malaria. All have succinct, interesting accounts of the material and are illustrated with photographs, drawings or data. There are a few worked examples too; the one on "linkage" is especially useful.
A summary of main ideas at the end of each chapter acts as a valuable revision aid. Understanding can be tested by exam questions from recent A-level papers and any special interest can be encouraged with the assignments (for example, The Secret Life of a Camel after the chapter on Homeostasis; Coping with Asthma, after gas exchange and Cystic Fibrosis and Gene Therapy after DNA Technology).
The book has lots of small but high quality full colour photographs and illustrations. All in all, Collins Advanced Biology merits serious consideration.
Jackie Hardie is deputy head of the Latymer School, north London